Just weeks after he became prime minister in August 2018, Scott Morrison announced an additional $4.6 billion in federal funding for non-government schools. “Our government believes that parents should have choice in education,” he explained. “The policies that we pursue as a government are about ensuring that choice for parents.” Just in case anyone missed the message, the extra cash was branded as the Choice and Affordability Fund.
As marketing, Morrison’s line may have worked; as public policy it simply doubled down on what was already an abject failure. Over the past twenty years, the Commonwealth has massively ramped up funding for non-government schools. And still, every summer, as reliably as Christmas and the Boxing Day Test, reports of steep increases in private school fees surface in the nation’s newspapers, along with stories of parents struggling to cope and principals struggling to explain. Now figures from the My School website, encompassing every school in Australia and incorporating all sources of revenue, confirms what the anecdotal evidence has long suggested.